Update on the new toy

It’s been a week now that I’ve been playing with my new iPad (and by the lack of blog entries I’ve posted during that week, it’s pretty obvious that playing with the iPad is what I’ve been doing).

The iPad is now my favorite tool for reading email and web cruising. The Mail app, especially in landscape mode, is just plain gorgeous, and far easier to read than on my MacBook. For my RSS feeds, I’ve recently started using Pulse, a newsreader app, which has somewhat the same esthetic effect–Pulse gives you each feed in a scrollable row, so that it’s easy to skim through them for interesting items, and allows you to view the full items either as text or html, and gives you the option of jumping into Safari. Essentially, my morning mail-and-web routine now uses my iPad, which frees me from my desk to wander where I will while I catch up with news from the outside world.

Writing has been a bit trickier to work out. Though I like Pages well enough for its design and layout options, and for the occasional short letter, I’m not a fan of it for my regular writing. On my laptop, I use Scrivener for most of my writing, exporting to Nisus Writer Pro when I need something that looks like a Word doc to the rest of the world. But Scrivener is the product of a teeny two-person shop and there is no iPad version planned, so for the time being, I’m using myTexts for my everyday writing. It’s a nice straightforward, no-frills writing app, great for banging out the words without worrying about styles and formatting.

All I need now is to tweak the ergonomics of writing on the iPad  a bit. I’ve used a Bluetooth keyboard at my desk with my MacBook for a few months, which has worked wonders for my shoulders—my desk is too high for comfortable typing on the laptop, and if I actually use the laptop in my lap, the arms and wrists are happier, but my eyes and neck and shoulders are not.

Sitting at a table, with my keyboard on my lap and the iPad on the table works pretty well, but I think I may toddle off to Ikea one of these days for a wheeled laptop tray, so I can slouch with my feet up in my recliner or on my sofa with my keyboard on my lap and the iPad floating at the right eye level.

So I’m comfy at home, or with the 3G, free to read my morning email at the local Peet’s. Life is good.

Ah, modern technology . . .

I’ve only had my iPad for 20 hours, and I was asleep for 7 of those, and a good portion of the remaining 13 hours I spent downloading apps, transferring my Stanza library, and generally exploring it to see how I want to set it up. So this morning’s really my first chance to see how it works as the everyday tool I’m hoping it can be.

What I’ve noticed so far:

  • Typing in landscape mode is already getting pretty fast, even though it’s easier to type with three or four fingers than with my usual eight or nine. (Having to switch to the number keyboard for the apostrophe is really annoying, though.)
  • It’s really fast, at least compared with my aging Intel MacBook. It only took about half the usual time for me to finish my morning email-web-FB routine. And I’m not tied to my desk or any place in particular while I’m at it–I can take it with me when the dog wants out, for instance.
  • iBooks and Kindle are quite nice ways to read books. Much to my surprise originally, I’ve been a big fan of ebooks on my iPhone, and I wasn’t sure I would like the larger page size on the iPad. But the iPad gives me what I like best of both physical and electronic books (I’ll willingly trade the yummy smell of new books for the lack of paper cuts.)
  • It feels somewhat larger and more substantial here in my lap than the demos at the Apple Store did. I suspect that’s mostly due to the contrast with my iPhone, and that in the Apple Store I was comparing iPads to MacBooks.
  • The oleophobic screen coating really works. The neat little pattern of fingerprints in the shape of the landscape keyboard wipes right off with a soft cleaning cloth.
  • Having to switch to the number keyboard for the apostrophe is really annoying.

The next few days should be interesting as the novelty wears off and I get down to trying some real work on the iPad.